chapter  6
15 Pages

The Enlightenment

The French Revolution brought its own structural calamities to the processes of building and architecture, never mind style. Claude Nicholas Ledoux might then be seen as an architect who makes progress away from classical stagecraft towards something called architecture parlante, or speaking architecture. The Grand Projects of the leftist president Francois Mitterrand in the 1980 were also criticised as crude. The silversmith Benvenuto Cellini's Autobiography and Casanova's Story of My Life, both proceed from the sublime to the ridiculous, as if the era were ready-made for parody in Carry On Henry and Carry On Don't Lose Your Head, fine evocations bracketing the period. What is striking about Casanova's description of pre-Revolutionary France is the degree of delight, knowledge and wit he brings to the scene. Back in France, David might have been painting The Oath of the Horatii for the king, probably a very worried king.